The founder of Korea’s ancient Silla Kingdom (57 BC-935) is mistakenly called “Baehyeokgeose” at the World Factbook website of the Central Intelligence Agency. His name is Park Hyeokgeose. The typo is highlighted in a red box. Screenshot courtesy of Central Intelligence Agency

Korean NGO requests instant correction of several mistakes

Voluntary Agency Network for Korea (VANK) said on March 17 that the latest World Factbook of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has more than 20 mistakes about South Korea.

VANK is a non-governmental outfit designed to promote a positive image of Korea, by requesting foreign internet sites or agencies to correct wrong data about the country.

“This is not the first time for the World Factbook to publish erroneous information about Korea. But the 2021 version appears to be more serious,” VANK leader Park Gi-tae said.

“In particular, the latest Factbook was wrong about Shilla in many respects, particularly about its founding year, its founder, and a shrine for the founder.”

Silla was a Korean kingdom, which started 57 BC in the southeastern part of the Korean Peninsula. In recognition of its founder, Park Hyeokgeose, Sungdeokjeon Shrine was established.

But the World Factbook mistakenly noted that Silla began during the first century AD by Bae Hyeokgeose, a wrong family name. It also mistakenly named his shrine Sungdeokjong.

Of note is that the Silla founder is the progenitor of all Park clans here; more than 4 million Koreans have the surname just like former MLB player Park Chan-ho and former Premier League player Park Ji-sung.

Bae is a different family name in Korea. Legendary actor Bae Yong-joon has the surname.

This angers many Koreans from the Park clans, including VANK leader Park himself and famous golf coach Park Won, who taught such players as 2015 U.S. Women’s Open Champion Chun In-gee.

“The CIA has changed the surname of my progenitor,” Park said on Facebook with an angry face reaction.

Asked why the CIA was wrong so many things about Silla, VANK chief Park said, “I hope that it’s just a coincidence.”